Howard M. Smith

Howard M. Smith, of Freeland, died April 29, 2002, surrounded by all of his family.

Mr. Smith was born on Christmas Eve, 1918, in Seattle. He was the second child and first son of Agnes and Ben Smith of Kent. He grew up in Kent on a dairy farm started by his father and brothers, known as the Smith Brothers Dairy. He attended Thomas and Ken schools, graduating in 1936. He enrolled at Washington State University in 1938.

Mr. Smith and his father founded Kent Airpark in the Kent Valley. It was the largest privately owned airpark west of the Mississippi. On Dec. 7, 1941, Howard was accepted to Hancock Air Academy, where he remained for three years. He was the youngest instructor and one of the few instructors to have a flawless safety record.

While living in Santa Maria, Mr. Smith met his first wife, Nancy Masterton. Aft the war, the couple and their daughter returned to Kent, where he reopened the Kent Airpark. In 1950 he opened Renton Aviation. In 1955 he sold Renton Aviation and returned to the family farm, where he had been selling tractor parts. He later opened a business in Puyallup called Smith Tractor. It was an immediate success. Smith Tractor expanded to seven stores in Washington and one in Alaska. In 1996 he sold Smith Tractor to a Canadian company. During his working years, Mr. Smith also worked with his father at the dairy.

Nancy Smith died in 1971.The couple had a daughter and three sons. Mr. Smith married Maureen K. Wilson in 1972. He retired in 1978 and moved full-time to Whidbey Island. The couple has made a home in Freeland since 1978.

He was preceded in death by two sisters, a brother and a great-grandson. He is survived by his wife, Maureen; children Linda Smith-Wilson, children Chris, wife, Jolene, children, Mariah and Hattie Wilson, John Wilson and Daniel Wilson; a son, Ben, wife Deborah and Deborah’s daughter, Alicia, husband, Steve and son, Josh; son, Howard Michael, wife, Beverly, children, Karie Smith, Kevin, wife, Andrea, children, Kayla and Justin; and son, Andrew, children, Aimee, husband, Jake and newborn son, Dylan; Noah Smith, Tami’s daughter, Megan.

Funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. on May 4 at St. Hubert’s Catholic Church, Langley. Interment will be in Langley Woodmen Cemetery. The graveside service is for immediate family only. A memorial reception will follow at Useless Bay Country Club. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to St. Hubert’s Building Fund or Senior Services of Island County.

Arrangements are under the direction of Visser Funeral Home in Langley.

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